How to beat white page syndrome in art. Sound familiar? You took the afternoon off, took out your pencils (or brushes), but it seems like you can’t write anything on the paper. So instead, you’re doing your laundry, making dinner, watching some TV. Until its night, and it’s too late to start anyway.
What is white page syndrome?
Blank page syndrome is generally associated with writer’s block, but it is essential for any creative endeavor, including the visual arts. It’s a frustrating place when you need to draw or design, but you can’t do it. So you end up doing pretty much anything else, and hours, days, and even weeks can go by without drawing ideas because it has a single line rule. And you’re not even sure why. You like to draw, have the skills (at least enough to write something), and are not even stressed or short of time. Yet nothing. I’ve put together this helpful checklist for you to get past the “artist block” and get the best out of a new masterpiece.
Get into the spirit
The right mindset, for any business, is often more important than you think. There’s no point in planning an artsy afternoon when your head isn’t on the line, and you’re just thinking about what last-minute vacation to book or what else you might need to prepare for tomorrow’s staff meeting. In these cases, when you are sure you remember more things you need to do when you lie down and need to rest a bit, it helps to have a notebook nearby. This way, you can quickly write down anything that comes to your mind and take the list next.
Even if you’re not working thinking anything, you’ll have to admit that sometimes you’re not in the mood. You may be tired, anxious, or angry about something. You can call it a day and postpone the drawing session until you’re no less distracted, or you can try helping out with a bit of incentive. I think that creating a cozier atmosphere helps my artistic mood a lot. I light the fire, burn a crackling fire or ambient storm sounds (my absolute favorite is this Hobbiton-inspired version), and light a scented candle.
Set a time interval
This advice seems so obvious, but it is often ignored. Don’t simply think to “draw a little,” began an accurate time frame. Let’s say you will be sitting for an hour, non-stop, from 4pm on Sunday. Make sure you are “watered and fed” before you begin, then turn off your phone and don’t get up before the hour is up. You can apply a time-following app to help you out, like the cutest forestry app I mentioned in my time management post.
It’s incredible how we often break our good intentions and keep doing something “faster,” whether it’s getting the gym bag ready for tomorrow or getting the chicken out of the freezer. Each of you can surely wait an hour without your life being ruined.
Silence that critical part of your brain
It is a different kind of mindset that may need correction if you are prone to impostor syndrome. Many of you will know the feeling, you are just getting the first few lines on that paper, and there is already that dark part in the back of your mind that rolls its eyes and shakes its head. Looking at how bad your job is, why do you worry? You can do other things that you’re best at, like doing laundry or taking a class for your current job. Leave the arts to someone more talented, why don’t you? There is absolutely nothing more toxic to enjoying any hobby than wanting to excel at it, apart from maybe comparing yourself to others.
Decide what to draw in advance.
Ideally, you should pick up potential subjects at times when you aren’t drawing. It will save you a lot of time and frustration later on when you’re sitting for it. Whenever you see something interesting, please make a note of it. It could be how morning light falls on your kitchen window at this time of year or that pretty historic chapel you walked through in town last week. I have a folder with themes that I can draw if I lack inspiration. Whenever I come across something nice, I write it or take a photo and save it for a rainy day.
Remember that you shouldn’t neglect drawing from real life as it is the best option for improving your skills. I’ve also collected 100 drawing ideas for you in case you ever get stuck. Because it is likely that if you still don’t know what you want to draw when you have time to do it, you won’t be able to think of something so ad hoc. It’s sort of like someone calling you to “say something clever.” Even if you’re regularly in the world of the body, your mind will likely go blank at that point.
Think about your composition
Knowing the subject is an excellent first step, but you should also consider what part of it you want to capture and what you want to focus on. Let’s say you decided to design your garden because it looks good with its fall colors. So you will want to think about which part of your garden. Maybe that pretty maple with the bushes behind it. If you know what arrangement you need (landscape, portrait, square, etc.), you can plan to place the focal point (maple) on the paper, as this will affect the other left and right parts it can show. If you find it difficult, you can purchase a viewer (or make your own with a piece of cardboard).
Create your schedule and stick to it
You’ve probably already decided whether you will be working with pencil or charcoal (or watercolor, acrylic, etc.) for today’s session. Still, it’s also a good idea to choose in advance what kind of drawing to do. If you have a short time value, you don’t want to waste it focusing everywhere and not getting anything useful.
Warm-up isn’t just for athletes
If you think you can go in and create a masterpiece from the moment you sit down, think again. Professional artists first know the necessity and value of heating, so let’s follow their advice. Making quick sketches to practice lines and sight is as essential to an artist as stretching is to an athlete. Drawing requires a different way of looking at your daily actions, so it’s great to give your brain a few times to adjust.
Make a plan on page
So, you have your name. You know where you require your focal case and what style you will draw today. It’s time you did it, then. Rather than starting drawing at a random spot on the page and working from there, it’s constantly best to draw a very sharp outline first so you understand where everything is going. It helps you determine where the objects you are drawing are about each other and resolve differences in the area before it’s too delayed. Nothing worse than having that field scene almost killed and then realizing that the bench came out abnormally large.
I haven’t always listened to my advice on this topic. Too often didn’t draw for weeks and was ultimately out of shape when I resumed my favorite hobby. That’s why I created the Sketch project, so it’s now much easier for me to practice a little bit every day and never run out of things to draw.
Also Read: Urban drawing